It is said that we are in a Golden Age of TV. And for the most part I agree with this. Many of the best TV shows ever made have been created in the past 10 years. From Sci-Fi (Battlestar Galactica), to crime drama (The Sopranos), to sociological pseudo-docs (The Wire), to psychological thrillers (Breaking Bad), to period pieces (Mad Men), to fantasy (Game of Thrones), this age of TV has given us so many great stories. However there is one genre that is left out; the sit-com.
Why is this? Is it because comedy is just harder? Is it because all the quality writers have left the sit-com world? Is it because sit-coms are primarily a network TV venture, and as we all know the best of TV is NOT on your ABC/NBS/CBS? Is it because I am just being snobby and there are plenty of good sit-coms on right now?
Well, maybe it is some amalgam of all of those things, but I propose one reason to rule them all:
All sit-com ideas have been used up.
Proof: Young Sheldon.
Sit-coms have historically delved into the idea of a spin-off. From All in the Family to Cosby Show to Cheers to even Perfect Strangers, networks love the comic spin-off. This is nothing new.
But taking a current character on a hit show (the only hit sit-com on network TV by the way) and showing him as a kid, and then running the show concurrently with the source material……well that is new. In fact, that is not only new, that is desperate.
Now I am not going to carp on the quality of the Big Bang Theory. I have to admit it was a guilty pleasure for the first 4 season, then storylines got tired and characters became exaggerations of themselves (I call that the ‘Buddy Lembeck’ effect from Charles in Charge). This happens with almost all sit-coms; stories become stale so all of the sudden two characters hook up, or someone gets a new wacky neighbor, or a little kid with a bowl-cut enters in the family for some odd reason. I haven’t seen Big Bang in over 4 years, but I do know it is the only major network sit-com that pretty much anyone knows about.
But to make a new show using a character and show him as a kid? Hell NO! There is no way this will work. I guess it is better than previous network efforts; throwing David Spade in some sort show playing a smug yet heart-of-gold asshole, cast Kelly Ripa as the perky and lovable mother, or anything with Zach Braff. But I guarantee a few things about Young Sheldon:
Some people will watch it at the beginning
No one will watch it after 4 episodes
It will last 16 years on the air because no one else in network TV have any better ideas